In 2010, trucking collisions in the U.S. accounted for 5,190 highway deaths and 116,000 highway injuries. These figures remained nearly unchanged for a ten year period, starting in 1995. Various studies cite to factors such as truck driver fatigue, inadequate brake systems on tractor trailers, a shortage of rest areas for trucks, companies, and drivers breaking the hours of service of rules which set driving limits, as well as unsafe driving on the part of other motorists. Trucking plays a necessary and vital role in our economy. However, we must also recognize that trucks or "big rigs" themselves pose a unique hazard to other motorists, which can be devastating.
A Virginia Truck Collision Case is Never "Ordinary"
Truck accident cases are unique in Virginia. First, the sheer size, weight, and operating speed of a tractor-trailer mean that trucking accidents tend to be major wrecks. They often cause life-changing injuries or death. Second, trucks are tightly regulated at the state and federal levels. Handling these cases requires a working knowledge of the framework of trucking regulations, and this goes above and beyond the legal knowledge required for a more typical personal injury case. Third, trucking insurance companies tend to be specialized and use different procedures for handling tractor-trailer collisions.
We've handled cases where the trucking company had its own investigator at a rural accident scene within minutes of the collision, taking statements and preserving evidence to protect themselves. Truck accident cases are serious business.
The key to winning the case may lie in physical evidence left at the scene, such as highway skid marks, gouge marks, debris, or other markings left by the vehicles. The key may lie in evidence recorded by the truck itself or in data already in possession of the trucking company. Alternatively, the key may lie in truck driver inattention, reckless driving, fatigue, or the trucking company's negligent hiring of an incompetent driver.
Federal and State Regulations Come Into Play
A distinct set of federal and state regulations controls truck operation and the trucking industry. This includes driver training and licensing, driver qualifications, truck inspection, maintenance and repair, and maximum driving limits. Your attorney should have a working knowledge of these distinct trucking regulations in order to correctly establish liability against a trucking company which may be guilty of wrongful conduct.
In short, trucking cases can be complex. The trucking companies have insurers and attorneys on their side, and you might benefit from speaking with an attorney.
Feel free to contact us for a free consultation. You'll find there's no obligation - just simple, direct advice on how we may be able to make things right.